BUFFALO — On Wednesday, the day the Sabres signed slick Russian center Mikhail Grigorenko to a three-year, entry-level contract, general manager Darcy Regier encountered a slew of prospects while visiting the players’ lounge inside the First Niagara Center.
Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno and Brayden McNabb, who all impressed during NHL stints last season, are in town working out. So is Grigorenko, the 12th overall pick last month, and 14th pick Zemgus Girgensons, who inked his entry-level deal last week.
“It’s a good feeling organizationally, not only because of the two-first rounders, but I think we’re in a different position organizationally depth-wise,” Regier said.
Whenever training camp begins, the youngsters should be competing for permanent NHL spots. It promises to be interesting.
“You start looking at the depth, you have a lot of confidence organizationally that these guys will be not only playing in the NHL, but be playing for a long period of time,” Regier said.
Grigorenko, a player many pegged as the 2012 NHL Entry Draft’s most talented, could be the Sabres’ No. 1 prospect. All eyes will be watching him as he guns to become the team’s first regular 18-year-old since Pierre Turgeon in 1987-88.
Regier said Grigorenko will be given “every opportunity” to make the big club. But don’t expect Grigorenko to be skating five minutes a night on the fourth line for the Sabres.
“In Mikhail’s case, it will be driven by him, driven by training and exhibition games and a sense of where he fits and how he fits, and not just the opportunity, but we have a responsibility and an obligation to put him in a position to succeed – not just on the short-term, but the long-term as well,” Regier said.
Grigorenko’s unsure if he’s ready for the big leagues. He received a small taste by competing against a handful of players with NHL experience at the team’s summer development camp last week.